xoxo, me

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Colorado, United States

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Big Reveal!

Some of you may remember last January when I - nervously and excitably - announced I had signed on as an indie designer on a special project.  But I couldn't talk about it. And boy did it kill me not to be able to talk about it because I was pretty stoked! Because the people I was working with were - well - kind of a big deal. But I signed a confidentiality agreement and I honored that. 

Today I chatted with the creators of the project and they said "please let people know about your beautiful work!! We couldn't have made it all so great without your talents." 

So humbly - and with gratitude - here's the scoop:

Have you ever heard of a little thing called Baby Einstein? The creator - and creative mind behind Baby Einstein - (I discovered) lives in Aurora.  Just a few miles from me. And 10 years ago sold Baby Einstein to the Disney corporation for $40 million dollars.

Yeah, them. That's who I was working with.

You may wonder - why me? I sure did. Here's the story...

Last December we did something unconventional for Christmas and took a three day trip to Las Vegas. Upon returning as our plane was taxiing to the terminal I turned on my phone to check messages and emails - you know, like you do. The first email (thru Etsy) was from Julie Clark - who at the time was unknown to me. She said simply, "Hi Cindi - I'm the founder of Baby Einstein... I saw your products on display at the airport and am interested in talking with you about designing some puppets for a new project I'm working on... Please drop me an email if you're interested in talking."

I looked at The Mister and we discussed - not having a clue at the time what the project was and omg - how huge this would end up being. Of course the first thing I said was, "Puppets - I've never made a puppet before..."  The Mister said,"Just talk to her."

Once home of course the research began immediately. I viewed Baby Einstein videos and man - they were cute.

Long story short, I met with Julie and her husband Bill and bingo, bango - I'm hired. With absolutely no puppet-making experience. I was nervous, excited and so thrilled to have been chosen.

That all quickly dissolved into panic. Because they were very specific about what they wanted (which is good!). I would be working off an artist's drawings and create 8 different characters. I could use the same basic pattern for each, but each would have very detailed features to make them unique. The characters were all chickens but based on famous people in art, literature and music (there would eventually be a cultural teaching component). 

The fabric - which no one could recall the name of or what it was composed of - was very specific as well. It was pliable but firm. And then there was the time frame  I had six weeks in which to do this. (Luckily that was extended by another 3 weeks or so - but still tight deadlines.)

We finally determined that the fabric was vellux. And very difficult to find. So I bought several king-sized off white vellux blankets and went to work hand-dying the fabric for the various colors I would need for each puppet.

One thing I forgot... I had 8 original designs to make - but also needed to make 2 back-up identical puppets for each character for a total of 24 puppets. Lesson learned - dye enough fabric for the back-ups. Oops.  And don't hand over the original 8 before you match the color dye lots. I dyed A LOT of fabric to make everything match. Whew. Probably the most challenging part of the project...

Once the original 8 were complete, I sat in on a filming session with the puppets. Because you see -- an iPad app was in the works. And it was a brilliant idea! But my work was not finished. Working with the puppeteer we discovered I needed to tweak a few things internally on the puppets to make his job a little easier. He and his assistant and I put our heads together and I went back to the studio to tweak.

A few days later we met again and yay - problem solved. Hugs all around and I'm off to make the back-ups.

So what did they look like?  Meet the puppets of Puppet Play - an adorable iPad App that will entertain kids and adults alike. Remember they are all birds and have clever names playing on the real names (Julie and her family are responsible for the names).  

Bantam of the Opera

Emily Chickenson

Charles Darwing

Jane Austen

Leonardo deFinci

Ludwig Von Beekhoven

Marco Pollo

Sir Isaac Hooten

And here is the whole crew.
Well, almost the whole crew.
This is the back-up crew.
The Originals were filming. 

So get thee to iTunes and download to see them in action!  The App is FREE for a limited time only!

It was one of the most fascinating experiences of my life.  It was challenging, invigorating, fun, scary, nerve-wracking... but in the end so rewarding! I loved working with Julie and Bill and Mark and I learned SO much. I stretched my abilities in ways I never, ever thought I could. I worked extremely long hours and faced one surprise after another but - wow - I am so glad they took a chance on me. I'll never forget it.

And now I'm off to buy an early birthday present - a mini iPad so I can see my "kids" in action!  ha!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Absolute Best Feeling in the World

I'm becoming that old lady. You know - the one that carries her little dog around in a bag with rhinestones on it. 

And we're becoming those old farts who travel with their little dogs everywhere. (Yes, I said dogs - we don't have a friend for Kizzie yet but we're thinking it's kind of inevitable). Next thing you know we'll be driving around in an RV.

After our Vet recommended using a harness for Kizzie when we walk her I have spent hours searching online for the perfect harness for her - comfort is the #1 priority. And then I realized - wait - we're heading into winter and she's already wearing her coat on our morning and evening walks.

But now I need one that has the buckles on the back to hook up her leash - a coat with harness if you will. More hours of research.

I was out most of the day today - the first time I've left Kizzie alone for several hours since she joined our family a week ago.  A couple of hours in I was literally having separation anxiety. This is ridiculous.

While my hair was turning blonde I received a text from The Mister. All it said was, "How is Kizzie." We're hopeless.

But the errands needed to be run ~ and I found a coat w/harness and a promising comfy harness at - of all places - Home Goods. Isn't that where everyone shops for their pet?

My hair was in desperate need of shaping and blonding - so that was a necessary 2.5 hours.

Then I fought rush hour traffic - taking short cuts where I could because I couldn't wait to get home.

And wow. I don't think there is a better feeling in the world than walking thru the door and a 10.8 lb bundle of fur dances and jumps and the tail wags and she can't wait to be picked up and there are puppy kisses and oh my ~ it's wonderful!

I'm hopeless. 

And I love these little dancing, jumping, cuddling feet.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Oh, It is Kismet.

My blog is quickly turning into "My Life with Kizzie."

Kizzie had her first visit yesterday with our wonderful Vet, Dr. Brenda Eisenhauer.  Even though Brenda's clinic, Parkside Animal Health Center has only been open for two years, we've been thru a lot together. She helped us say goodbye to Boda Kitty; she offered tissues and hugs when we said goodbye to Simba. We've shared a lot of tears.

So when Brenda walked into the exam room yesterday and saw Kizzie sitting blissfully between The Mister and me ~ she literally jumped up and down. The room was filled with joy.

Not only did Kizzie receive a clean bill of health, but ~ get this. The whole kismet thing has come full circle. Brenda works a couple of days a week at the Denver Dumb Friends League. Kizzie had a tooth removed while she was living there (last Monday). The Sunday prior to Kizzie's surgery, Brenda had been pulled aside by Ben (who hooked us up with Kizzie). He begged her to take a look at a special little dog to see if she needed to have a tooth extracted.

Yes, the special little dog was Kizzie.

Brenda didn't do the surgery but examined her and recommended the tooth come out. So when she was sitting on the floor yesterday checking Kizzie out she had an "aha" moment. "I know this dog!"

And... we're full circle and back to why Kizzie's formal name is Kismet.

And then this happened.  You all saw this coming.

Yup. That's Kizzie. In our bed. 

I have to admit it was nice to sleep in a little. I'm convinced she would stay there all day if we did. I'm sure we've created a monster ~ I have no doubt this will be a habit.

Our early morning walk was crisp and beautiful.

Kizzie quickly reminded me that although we donned our coats and hats, we failed to put her new coat on her. It was a short walk with shiver baby.

Next walk ~ the coat's on!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

No, No, No said Kizzie

Kizzie and I went for a walk this morning. I was reminded how happy I am that she came into my life before this Autumn left. We came across several piles of leaves and I thought, hmmmm... wouldn't that make a lovely backdrop for a Kizzie portrait...

Kizzie is definitely photogenic. I should start carrying my Canon but right now I'm just remembering how to juggle a leash and a cell phone. So here's how our little photo shoot went.

I got Kizzie to sit but she said, No, No, No to posing.
(Go ahead. Get Amy Winehouse out of your head now.)

There was something behind her that was very interesting.

So I shot the top of her head for awhile.

Then I decided to hold my phone upside down 
and shoot her in the direction she was turning.

I seemed to be on to something...

And then she was done. ;-)

I think in time we'll be a good team.  Practice, patience ~ oh and probably treats. ;-)  Good girl, Kizzie.

Lessons in Love

And just like that life got oh so much better.

Kizzie makes me go outside. And suddenly I remember how beautiful nature is.

Returning home from a dentist appointment yesterday I was reminded how wonderful it is to walk in the door and see a little furball shaking with so much excitement she can barely contain herself.  The only thing cuter was watching her later in the day... She already knows the sound of the garage door and that means something good is going to happen. When she heard that around 5:00 yesterday I watched her leap from her studio bed and sit at the top of the stairs in anticipation. Is it Dad? Is Dad home?

And she wasn't disappointed! The door opened and she heard, "Kizzie!  Kizzie where are you?"  She tore down the stairs and jumped up and down - "Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! Dad's home!"

And, of course, that meant another walk was in order - even though it was a little confusing with both Mom and Dad.

Before we knew it we had covered several blocks!

After that it was time for Kizzie's first bath.

And despite her look of terror, she rather enjoyed it and didn't squeak a peep!

I towel-dried her and put her down and immediately - as is her wont - 
she jumped right smack dab into a pile of pillows.

She started to shiver so we lit the fire so she could warm up. The caveat being - since she is often kind of glued to my hip, I had to sit on the floor next to her so she would stay on her bed.  

And her reward for being such a good girl?  Brand spankin' new collar and her very own pink name tag - complete with Swarovski crystals. Only the best for our girl.

That being said, however ~ 
whoever said diamonds are a girl's best friend, 
never owned a dog.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

To Love a Dog...

When Simba died a couple of months ago the grief was overwhelming. I moved thru life aimlessly for days. When The Mister and I could finally start talking about it and slowly moving beyond our sorrow we talked about maybe someday adopting another dog. Someday. That was a step for me because I had always said ~ when Simba is gone, I don't want another dog.

One friend told me ~ I know you are grieving but I hope you don't wait too long to adopt another dog. There are so many dogs out there who need love and you two have so much love to give.

Another friend recommended just walking thru the kennel. If there is some soul there you are supposed to have, Simba will guide you.

Another friend said ~ there is no timeline on when to adopt another dog. Trust your feelings.

As time progressed we talked about waiting a year ~ let's do some travel while we're not tied down, etc. Big talk. Because soon it was ~ well, we do have a couple of reliable petsitters when we travel... maybe in the spring, after the snow is past.

So no one was more surprised than me when a couple of weeks ago I found myself yearning for canine companionship. I never saw this coming. I realized, though, that at this stage in my life I'm working from home ~ I'm here almost every single day. And I was used to having a buddy in the studio with me. She was comfort and good for a laugh now and then. She reminded me to take a break, go for a little walk and get outside to clear my head.

Soon the talk turned to ~ well I have a birthday coming up (November 8). The Mister asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I said, "A dog."

"What kind of dog?"

"The one in the shelter who needs the most love."

Of course we didn't wait for my birthday. Yesterday late afternoon we were out and about and he says, "Would you like to stop by The Dumb Friends League?"



"I guess so."

When we pull up in front of the building we notice a tall friendly staff member walking a cute little dog. Neither one of us said anything but commented to each other later that we both noticed the dog.

Once inside we checked in at the front desk and the same dog is on a leash behind the guy (his name was Ben) helping us. Again - we both told each other later that we had the same thought - we kind of wanted to see that dog. We chatted with Ben, telling him about our beloved Simba - a basenji/blue heeler who had recently passed.

Off we go to walk thru the kennels with our little check sheet.  We walk thru two or three times and began making notes. We could list 4 dogs we would like to visit with. They were all beginning to look the same except for one ~ Sophia. So we decided, let's start with her. And, honestly, she was the only one we were truly interested in.

As we are walking up to the desk Ben stopped us and said, "I have the perfect dog for you two. Come here and just take a look at her on the computer ~ it's not a great picture, but she's a rat terrier mix and just the sweetest thing. So mellow, so loving. She was almost adopted yesterday but the couple needed a super hypo-allergenic dog and she just wasn't quite right."

We looked at the picture of this sweet dog he was going on about and that's when the tears started forming. 

It was Sophia. And Sophia was the one we had seen outside when we pulled in. And Sophia was the dog behind the check-in desk.

We looked at Ben and said, "You're not going to believe this. She is the only one we wanted to see."

Ben was so happy. We were so stunned. So as we waited in the little visitation room - sitting on the floor waiting for Sophia - there were more tears. It just seemed like we were being lead by the hand to adopt this dog. Oh, Simba...

Of course our meeting went well. Of course it did! And I knew after the first time she smothered The Mister in puppy kisses it was all over.

How could anyone resist that face?

We had a serious heart-to-heart about her living with us.

We learned that Sophia's one and only owner had to give her up because he was forced to move to a smaller apartment that didn't take dogs. She is so well-behaved it's obvious she was loved. She is 5.5 years old but we don't care. She's perfect.

She visits the Vet at the shelter one last time; we're given some short-term medication to take home for a tooth she had removed the day before, signed the adoption papers and bingo, bango, she's ours. There we are ~ in our car driving our new pup home.

I just kept saying, "It's Kismet - how we found her and how she found us. It was all meant to be."

We went back and forth on ideas for names. Sophia is a lovely name but it is rather sophisticated for such a little furry bundle of joy.  We finally decided ~ it's Kismet. And we will call her Kizzie for short.

We will never forget her first night home. She hopped from the floor, to the ottoman, to my lap and jumped square into a pile of pillows on the couch. It was the cutest damn thing I've ever seen.

This morning I felt a joy I haven't felt in a long time. I took little Kizzie outside for a short walk. Back inside I fed her; she inhaled the food. Her little tail was going so fast I'm surprised she didn't fall over. I stayed in the kitchen to tidy up, turned around and saw this.

And I suddenly realized ~ every morning from now on my day will start like this. With this little soul looking to me for her every need ~ and the unconditional love I will receive in return? Well, you can't put a price on that.

When the sun rose I took her for a little longer walk.

Back home I gathered my things and headed up to my studio. I looked at her and said, "Come on Kizzie! Time to go to work." She flew up the stairs and took her place. 

Right where she should be.

Tonight we will give her her first bath and fluff up that adorable coat. She'll don her new collar and her new tag and it will all be absolutely official.

She is Kizzie. And she is ours.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

O What A Beautiful Morning!

I've been shooting sunrises for as long as I can remember. Some require several frames and require that I run from the East to the West to the South and North. What a great way to start the day!!

And with that ~ Mornin' peeps!